Asianumero: FINE-003478 (2019)

Asiaryhmä: Muut asiat

Ratkaisu annettu: 06.02.2019

Did the Bank´s currency calculator function properly? Currency exchange. Currency calculator.

Account of the case

The Customer sold USD dollars to the Bank but she received less euros to her EUR account than she thought she would after checking beforehand the Bank´s currency rate on their website.

Customer’s complaint

The Customer claims a 530 EUR compensation.

The Customer made an exchange of money from USD to her EUR account. Before she made the exchange she checked the Bank´s currency rate on their website and it said 1,04 USD per EUR. However the Customer received much less because the Bank used a different rate of 1,08 USD per EUR. The Customer contacted the Bank and they said that there had been a mistake due to a system malfuntion and they would fix it. Later, they changed and said that there had been no mistake and that exchange rates can be different than what they publish on their website.

The Bank refers to information that was not public. They claim that they used the correct exchange rate according to their internal information. As a consumer this internal information is irrelevant since all the Customer has access to is the information that they make public. 

As evidence to their public information, the Customer has a screen shot from the Bank´s website that shows that the applicable rate was of 1.04 dollars per euro. This screen shot is taken some time after the Customer made the transaction, when she noticed that she had received less money. However, on the day of the transaction, the information was exactly the same.

In addition, in the letter they claim that they applied an exchange rate of 1.0738. This information is false. The rate they applied was 1.0802. Here is the calculation: the Customer exchanged 14.842,58 USD and received 13.740,86 EUR, 14.842,58 / 13.740,86 = 1.0802.

In reference to the online calculator, the Bank replied that the Customer has done “the opposite transaction”, making the calculation as a buyer instead of a seller. However, this claim is false as the calculator did not make this distinction. The Customer attaches a screen shot of the calculator to show that it contained only three fields: “Enter amount”, “Select currency” and “Calculate the amount of the currency into”. Therefore, the Customer entered the dollar amount in the first field, selected USD dollars in the second field, and asked the calculator to convert that amount into EUR in the third field. The calculator did not offer any options as to a buyer or seller position, which proves that Bank’s claim is false.

The Bank has changed its website and nowadays the calculator offers the possibility to be a buyer or a seller. However, even today with this new possibility, the calculator gives virtually the same amount either as a buyer or as a seller. This means that even today the calculator does not show different results depending on whether the calculation is made as a buyer or as a seller.

The print that the Bank refers to in the letter shows the word "Sale". However, this word and all the information on this section of the print (e.g. "Actions", "Buy/Sale", etc.) was automatically generated. When clicking "Calculate" all this information appeared and the system did not offer any more choices. Therefore, the "choice" that the Bank continues to mention was non-existent.

The screenshot attached by the Bank shows that the calculator requests to select a "buy" or "sell" option. And, according to the attachment, this field seems to disappear on a later stage. However, at the time of the transaction, such disappearing field did not exist. The system did not show any options as to different types of transactions. 

Bank’s reply 

The Bank apologizes the wrong answer once given. The Bank has carefully studied the systems applied in the transaction and verified that they function properly as well as the currency calculator.

The Bank includes the currency rates applied on 9.12.2016 when the transaction was done. According to it the sell rate was 1.0738 and buy rate 1.0369. Both rates are in line with the rates the Customer refers to in her complaint. That shows that the Bank has given proper rates.

According to that calculation the Customer is buying USD and paying them in EUROS. In the Customer´s case she sold USD and the bank paid her in EUR. The rate in the said calculation is in line with the rate referred in the previous reply and thus shows that the currency calculator functions properly.

In the Customer’s print (dated 18.1.2017) the chosen transaction is "Sale", which according to the calculator's terminology means a transaction where the bank sells USD dollars to the client. The transaction the Customer carried out was the opposite, where she sold and the bank bought USD dollars. Thus the indicative currency rate in this print is not misleading in the manner as the Customer says.

The Bank has included pages from the calculator which the Customer used. The calculator first requires the type of transaction sell or buy the customer wishes to make. Then the amount and currency are filled in the calculator and thereafter the currency wanted is chosen. The Customer has had to make these choices in order to get any figure or rating. Thus these choices have been made by the user and not by the calculator as the Customer says.

The Customer writes, that according to the pages referred above, Sell or Buy option disappears on the later pages. The reason for the disappearance is because the Sell or Buy option has been already chosen. However, the type of transaction chosen can be read on another line on such latter page.

Consequently, as stated before the calculator has functioned properly. Because the Customer has done the opposite transaction than in the calculation she cannot refer to the rate used therein.

All the rates the Customer has provided indicate that the Bank's currency calculator operates properly. However the calculator is only indicative and slight differen ces may occur when the transaction is executed.

Thus the currency transaction executed by the Customer on 9.12.2016 has been done at generally applicable rate and she has not received wrong rates from the currency calculator.

The Bank does not comment the new currency calculator because it is not relevant to this case.

The Bank has a log of all modifications or changes of the calculator. Based on that history of versions the Bank has once again checked that the copies of the calculator pages delivered previously were copies of version of the calculator used at the time the Customer made the transaction.

Recommended resolution

Evaluation of the case

On the basis of the report concerning the case, FINE considers that while checking the Bank´s currency rate on the Bank´s website´s currency calculator the Customer chose the transaction in which she was exchanging money from EUR to USD. In other words, in that calculation the Customer was buying USD and paying them in EUROs. The exchange she afterwards made was the opposite, she made an exchange of money from USD to EUR; in other words, she sold USD and the bank paid her in EUR. FINE also takes in to account that it was stated in the currency calculator that the rates shown are only estimates.

FINE finds it important that on its website the Bank would give its customers as clear as possible instructions on how to use the currency calculator. Despite possible shortcomings in the instructions that where on the Bank’s website in December 2016, FINE considers on the basis of the report concerning the case that the currency calculator has functioned properly. 

Final outcome

Given the above, FINE does not recommend a compensation in the case.

The Finnish Financial Ombudsman Bureau

Chief of department Sainio
Presenting official Hidén